At $159.99, Apple’s new AirPods are super expensive. But there is a very good reason why. According to an iFixit teardown, there is a lot of technology crammed into this pair of wireless earphones. As it turns out, the old “you get what you pay for” saying is true.
In the AirPods, which weigh four grams (0.14 ounces) each, Apple has packed its own W1 chip to provide wireless connectivity, IR sensors, microphones, an accelerometer and a battery, on top of the usual speaker. The IR sensors, microphones and accelerometer are there so that the AirPods can detect when they’re in your ear — and work accordingly.
The battery, which has a 91mWh capacity (that’s around one percent of an iPhone 7 battery), gives each AirPod a playback time of up to five hours. The charging case has a bigger battery, having a capacity of 1.52Wh, so that it can have enough juice to keep the wireless earbuds working for a day.
However, having all this technology in such small earphones means that repairability wasn’t high on Apple’s list of priorities. The iFixit report notes that this a product that is virtually impossible to fix, being awarded a repairability score of zero out of 10.
Why? Well, to get to the internals, iFixit had to use a knife to cut through the plastic. Apparently, there are no fasteners of any kind to hold the AirPods components together. Apple used a lot of glue instead. “If jamming complex components into a small form factor and sealing it with a copious amount of glue were a game, Apple would be winning”, says iFixit.
While this is an impressive design, if you consider everything that’s inside one of those tiny AirPods, it makes it hard to recycle the wireless earphones. The report notes that there is one connector inside, but pretty much everything else involves a soldering iron to strip out.
The report is pretty interesting to read, so if you want to learn more about what goes into the AirPods hit this link for the teardown. If you want to watch an unboxing, Brian Fagioli has you covered in the YouTube video below.